New Exhibit Spotlight to open March 2 at Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center

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Date: February 24, 2017
Contact: Cindy Small, 717-339-2109

Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park are pleased to announce the debut of an exciting new exhibit March 2 dedicated to one-of-a-kind artifacts from the world-class collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia.

Titled The First Among Equals: MOLLUS, Its Collection and the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, this Exhibit Spotlight features artifacts originally donated in large part by veterans, families and prominent citizens to the Pennsylvania Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), the nation’s first veterans’ organization. The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia became the museum of that collection.

Because these treasured objects can be linked to specific people, units, places or times, they offer a glimpse into the past that enlivens the story of the American Civil War for visitors to Gettysburg. The exhibit’s featured artifacts–from revolvers to canteens and flags to stencils and hats and more–weave together to enhance the compelling narrative of the war.

Robert A. Kinsley, chairman of the board of Gettysburg Foundation said, “All of the artifacts in the collection are significant to the history of our nation. In particular, the General George Meade Collection evokes stories and imagery of his leadership at Gettysburg during the battle that changed the course of history. Through these artifacts, you can feel the passion, the courage and the conviction of the men who bravely fought to preserve our nation.”

Ed W. Clark, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, added, “These amazing objects will enable us to better tell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. They will inspire our visitors now and for generations to come.”
Free and open to the public, the exhibit runs through 2017. It is the newest display of artifacts within the Exhibit Spotlight area of the Museum and Visitor Center. The Exhibit Spotlight gallery annually features a new theme and rotation of artifacts that connect soldiers, civilians and generals to the Battle of Gettysburg. Visitors have the opportunity to follow the journey of the person featured in the exhibit through their Gettysburg experience—watching the story unfold as they explore the connections found in both the Museum galleries and on the battlefield.

As a result of a historic 2016 partnership forged between the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and Gettysburg Foundation, the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia’s collection is stored at Gettysburg, where its items also will be exhibited. In addition to featuring a special selection in the Exhibit Spotlight area, a number of key objects have been integrated into the main Museum Galleries and the Gilder Lehrman Special Exhibits Gallery. Solidifying the long-term relationship between Gettysburg and Philadelphia, an exciting new exhibit is in the planning stages at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center featuring artifacts from this collection.

Highlights of the Exhibit Spotlight include:

Headquarters Flag, Army of the Potomac, 1864 - When General Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Union armies in 1864, he chose to lead the field and made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, at the time commanded by Major General George G. Meade. Meade was presented with a challenge because precedent called for the senior commander to designate his headquarters with the national flag, which now meant Grant. Meade’s solution: create this new headquarters flag. In a circular issued on May 2, 1864, Meade informed his men that his flag would be “a magenta-colored swallow-tailed flag, with an eagle in gold, surrounded by a silver wreath.”

War correspondent Alfred R. Waud recalled Grant’s humorous reaction when seeing this flag for the first time: “What’s this! Is Imperial Caesar anywhere about here?” Meade reversed course less than a month later, calling for the headquarters to be designated with “a small national flag” in a circular on May 25, 1864. Although reasons for the change are unknown, Grant’s comment and known lack of formality may have played a part in Meade’s decision.

Model 1860 Presentation Cavalry Sword & Scabbard, 1861 - This presentation sword and scabbard was presented by the 1st Nebraska Infantry (later Cavalry) to Lewis Merrill. The engraving on the blade reads, “The officer of the 1st Regt. Nebraska Volunteers to Capt. Lewis Merrill 2nd Dragoons USA August 1861.” Merrill, a veteran of the pre-war 2nd US Dragoon regiment, organized and commanded the 2nd Missouri (Union Cavalry), better known as “Merrill’s Horse.” The regiment was well known for its aggressive, effective fighting against Confederate forces in the guerilla-style warfare typical of the war in Missouri and Arkansas. Post-war, he played a notable role in Reconstruction, fighting to dismantle the Ku Klux Klan in York County, South Carolina and other parts of the South. 

Writing board of Capt. Nathaniel Bayne, 118th Pennsylvania Infantry (Corn Exchange Regiment). This simple piece of wood, elevated on one end, served as a portable writing desk for Captain Nathaniel Bayne (1840-1898) of the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry. The engraving reads, “CAPT NATHANIEL BAYNE CO=I=118TH=REGT PENNA VOL (CORN EXCHANGE).” The regiment gained its nickname “Corn Exchange” from its sponsor - the Philadelphia brokerage house bank that raised the funds to form the regiment and pay $10 to each new recruit. Bayne was wounded at Dabney’s Mills outside Petersburg in February 1865. He mustered out at the rank of Captain in June 1865. After the war Bayne married, worked as a tailor, and had five children. He is buried at Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.
Smoking Pipe - Brevet Major Albert H. Walters of the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry (also known as the Corn Exchange Regiment) owned this pipe. The skilled engraving on the pipe denotes battles in which Walters participated, including the major engagements fought by the Union Army of the Potomac in the first year and a half of the war. Walters mustered as a private in 1861 and rose in the ranks until promoted by brevet to Major on July 6, 1864 “for gallant and distinguished services at the battles of Bethesda Church, North Anna, and during the present campaign before Richmond, Va.” He is buried in Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Last updated: February 28, 2017

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